American pit bull terriers are often accused of serious attacks on people. Once they have the victim in their jaws, they shake them From side to side, and do not let go. There are comparatively few pit bulls in Australia, yet they have been responsible for several fatal attacks. However, because they are perceived to be aggressive, vicious dogs, partly clue to media hype, there are occasions when they are wrongly blamed for these attacks. At present, there is pressure from various groups calling for the government to enforce a total ban on pit bulls.

I cannot totally condemn this type of thinking, as I can see the reasons for banning particular breeds. On the other hand, I have met and trained some very sensitive and sweet-natured pit bulls — they are not all depraved killers.

The ancestry of the pit bull includes many formidable breeds: the English bull terrier, the Rhodesian ridgeback, the bull mastiff and the Staffordshire bull terrier, amongst others. Originally they were bred to fight other clogs, never people. In fact, all fighting clogs were bred to be loyal and friendly towards humans, otherwise they would have been impossible to handle.

Like any breed, some pit bulls can be aggressive, and if so they are extremely dangerous because of their size, strength and lighting capability. Others are friendly by nature, but have been encouraged by an irresponsible owner to become aggressive.